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There are many ways to end a song. Perhaps you just play the final note and end it there. Perhaps your guitarist or saxophonist holds a note and the song fades out as that note plays. Or maybe your band just keeps playing and the song slowly fades out as they continue their rhythm. A Big Rock Ending is for when none of these options will do. Instead, the band drops the tempo and starts jamming out in a flurry of musical awesomeness, usually ending with a final note or riff to let everyone know it is over. Frequent features of the Big Rock Ending include the guitarist or saxophonist or keyboardist going absolutely nuts and improvising wildly, the drummer doing a roll on the cymbals and/or the toms, and if it's a metal song (especially Power Metal), the singer might also scream at a high pitch until the end.
There are a few essential components of the Big Rock Ending that make it what it is; if these components aren't present, the ending of a song likely isn't a Big Rock Ending:
- The most important aspect of a Big Rock Ending is that the tempo goes away, and the band plays while ignoring tempo entirely. There's no beat or rhythm to Big Rock Ending at all. If the song has a steady beat until the end, it doesn't have a Big Rock Ending. A good guide is to see if you can tap your foot to the beat of the song until the song ends. If you reach a point where you can't tap your foot to the beat of the song, you may have a Big Rock Ending.
- The band plays something other than what they've been playing previously; faster or slower versions of previous riffs and beats don't count. That something is usually an inconsistent beat with little seeming rhythm or reason to it, though one or two band members may hold a note while the others play.
- Usually, the song ends with the band members playing a final note or two to let everyone know the Big Rock Ending has ended, but this isn't essential.
The Rock Band video game series is the Trope Namer and has a special way of handling Big Rock Endings. When a Big Rock Ending comes up, players can play whatever they like and earn points, but they need to hit those notes at the end to actually get points. While most songs that have Big Rock Endings in Rock Band do actually have a Big Rock Ending, there are a few important distinctions to make.
- Not every song that has a Big Rock Ending rendered in Rock Band has a Big Rock Ending. Take Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock", for example. The game charts it as a Big Rock Ending, yet because the tempo doesn't change and the drum beat and guitar riff are consistent, it isn't an actual Big Rock Ending. Some songs also have Big Rock Endings added on when put in Rock Band, either because they are live versions or because the original songs ended with a fade-out while the band was still playing, so Harmonix added a Big Rock Ending, rather than having the song abruptly end.
- Just because a song doesn't have a Big Rock Ending in Rock Band doesn't mean it doesn't actually have a Big Rock Ending. Take Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" as an example; it has all of the components of a Big Rock Ending yet isn't charted as such.
The take-away message is that whether or not a song has a Big Rock Ending in Rock Band doesn't necessarily mean it does/doesn't actually have a Big Rock Ending.
Often the Grand Finale of a song. Frequently lead into by a Last Chorus Slow-Down and sometimes accompanied (especially in metal songs) by a Metal Scream. Not to be confused with Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
It's not uncommon for a band to add a Big Rock Ending to a song that didn't have one originally while they are playing that song live, especially when it's the last song they play during a show, so only add songs to the list that include a Big Rock Ending when they were first recorded. The one exception to this rule is if the song was only performed by the band during live performances.
Songs with a Big Rock Ending:
- Stay Away (Nirvana)
- Alive (Pearl Jam)
- Jesus Christ Pose (Soundgarden)
- Spy (They Might Be Giants)
- Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered (Chiodos)
- Party Poison and Vampire Money by My Chemical Romance
- Oh My God (Ida Maria)
- It's Gonna Be a Long Night (Ween)
- Time Honoured Tradition (Kaiser Chiefs)
- War Pigs and Never Say Die (Black Sabbath)
- Stand Up and Shout (Dio)
- Where The Rain Grows (Helloween)
- Painkiller (Judas Priest)
- Metal Bucetation by Massacration, a Brazilian comedy band (the song itself ends at 3:32 - after that there are a few seconds of silence, followed by a bonus track form their debut album)
- Black Wind, Fire and Steel and Hail to England (Manowar)
- No Bone Movies (Ozzy Osbourne)
- The Conjuring (Megadeth)
- Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and The Day That Never Comes (Metallica)
- Overkill (Motorhead)
- Run To The Hills, Powerslave, Hallowed Be Thy Name, El Dorado, Sun and Steel (Iron Maiden)
- black magic/all/1 Black Magic (Slayer)
- Red Devil and Damnation Game (Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force)
- Endless Sacrifice (Dream Theater)
- Aqualung (Jethro Tull)
- 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson)
- Limelight and Working Man (Rush)
- Providence (Godspeed You Black Emperor)
- Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)
- T.N.T., Let There Be Rock, Whole Lotta Rosie... ACDC just loves this trope. Especially when playing live (speaking of which, in regards to the Trope Namer, in the AC/DC Live Track Pack, only "Thunderstruck" and "Moneytalks" do NOT have BREs. All other 16 songs have them).
- Push Push (Lady Lightning) (Bang Camaro)
- Warriors of Time (Black Tide)
- Highway Star and Burn (Deep Purple)
- Now! (Scorpions)
- I'm the One, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Stay Frosty and so on (Van Halen)
- I Believe in a Thing Called Love (The Darkness)
- I Come Tumblin' (Grand Funk Railroad)
- Flirtin' With Disaster (Molly Hatchet)
- Heartbreaker (Pat Benatar)
- Bodhisattva (Steely Dan)
- Guilty By Assosciation (Steve Taylor)
- For The Love of God (Steve Vai)
- Green Grass and High Tides (The Outlaws)
- Sekai wa Sore wo Ai to Yobundaze (Sambomaster)
- Ending from Desert Sessions 7 which is Josh Homme and friends jamming. The entire song is a Big Rock Ending.
- Talk Dirty to Me (Poison)
- Remedy (The Black Crowes)
- If I Don't get Video Games for Decemberween by Brainkrieg, a Fake Band in the Homestar Runner universe.
- World is Mine by Miku Hatsune, a Vocaloid song.
- Pavement's "Elevate Me Later" seems to go into one about two minutes in, but then the band abruptly starts playing the main riff again for another 30 seconds and the song actually ends on a more subdued note.
- Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name" seems to go into one about four minutes in, before cutting back to the chorus and the outro.
- Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City" has a Big Rock Ending... which is then followed by a good few more minutes of the song... which ends in another Big Rock Ending.
- The Who's "Young Man Blues (Live At Leeds)" has about three or four Big Rock Endings before its actual one, most of which are marked by Keith Moon's monster drum fills.
- Iron Maiden's "El Dorado", mentioned above, not only has a Big Rock Ending, it also has a Big Rock Beginning.
- Weezer's "Undone - The Sweater Song" actually ends with a complete instrumental trainwreck, which only fits the trope in concept.
- When played live, all three of "Overkill's endings become BREs.
- Everything Else by Everything Else off of the album Everything Else has four of them.